A visit to Lloyd’s Banking Group April 24, 2012Posted by Jeff Riley in : Graduate recruitment, Industry Information, Uncategorized, finance, internships , 1 comment so far
*** This post has been checked 3 April 2013. Most graduate scheme places in Lloyds closed by December but ad hoc posts still available. Worth checking the site for useful blogs for those considering applying in future ***
I’ve changed roles recently and have been finding my way at my new postings at Queen Mary (including their excellent politics and history departments) and UCL. I intend to keep on posting here about getting into international development as well as international relations and related careers. Occasionally I post on other things and I have just uncovered this report I wrote on a visit to the Lloyds banking group towards the end of last year. I normally ask the companies to double check my visit reports but on this occasion it got a little lost. Rather than just chuck it I thought I’d post it here and hope it gives readers an idea of the kinds of roles and internships a bank offers – this was for the 2012 programme but the 2013 programme will no doubt be unveiled later this year…
Jeff Riley, The Careers Group, University of London
10.30am I’m on my last corporate visit of the summer. Graduate recruiters use these group visits to brief careers advisers about their forthcoming recruitment campaigns. I push the boat out by bringing a suit to change into as I cycled here. Top facilities to get changed in and I emerge looking all presentable and normal and head like an arrow for the tea and hob knob biscuits.
11.10am Michael Nathan from Lloyds graduate recruitment team does the housekeeping, you know the usual cautionary note to prevent death by burning. Even more ominous to me is the phrase ‘buffet lunch’. Perhaps I misheard?
11.20am Lloyds 2012 campaign has started with the launch of the website yesterday. I’m feeling autumn term has arrived early this year and this kind of keeness isn’t helping. I see a tidal wave coming at me with data projectors, roving mikes, students and recruiters all bearing down on me with no higher ground available. Apparently Lloyds have already received 600 applications from pre-registered students. These statistics are going to take pride of place in my tough love campaign I’m planning for students in the new academic year. ”Hello welcome to College ….you are already behind in the race.”
A corporate video to start…that’s technologically brave but it works a treat. These guys go back to the 17th century. Since then they have amalgamated with Scottish Widows, TSB, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, Clerical Medical, Cheltenham and Gloucester (and most recently, of course, with the UK government). Now the largest retail bank in the UK with 30 million customers (including it turns out half of the careers people in the room) and a £1 trillion balance sheet. All this to a Carmina Burana style sound track.
11.30am Graduate leadership group. 360 degrees of opportunity This strap line really rooted in the breadth of organizations that now make up the group. One of the key themes of the day is that this breadth means retail banking is only one option for graduates. They can become involved in insurance, wholesale and corporate banking, foreign exchange, risk and more. Trainees can opt for many different streams and, during their training (typically two years) rotational placements give a varied foundation for future careers.
Michael then asked us why Lloyds had been in the news lately . Hang on I know this….No it’s gone. Was it something about separating retail from investment banking? No one could remember but we all then remembered it was about a big redundancy programme the Group had announced. Michael assured us though that these would be phased redundancies and in the coming campaign they still want 200 graduates and 60 summer interns.
Trainees take a series of placements, usually between 3 and 4 across divisions such as insurance and banking all underpinned by a different theme eg customer service, leadership and different aspects of risk, for example risk focusing on HR issues. Most likely these rotational training programmes will involve working in different parts of the UK
Lloyds see the graduate training programmes as a chance for trainees to see which discipline and area would suit them in the longer term. All trainees are supported by a central team and a personal and a professional development programme which includes including a formal qualification in such things as accountancy, human resources and IT.
- General management – This stream takes 50% of trainees and includes community banks, wholesale, operations and wealth. All programmes include leadership skills and the IFS School of Finance professional qualification
- Corporate banking – includes 8 weeks technical training
- Treasury and Trading –
- Wholesale Markets
- Finance – CIMA or ACA professional qualification option. A 3 year programme
- Business technology – a challenging area to recruit for but Lloyds stress it’s not about programming’ and is really about leading and managing. However an interest in technology is essential. The professional qualification is the ADMP – Association of Project Management - in other words a management rather than a technical qualification
- HR – Includes support for CIPD
Benefits package. £28k-£38k plus £3k joining bonus. Laptop and mobile phone and, where appropriate, London weighting.
Entry qualifications. Need 2.1 and between 260 and 320 UCAS points.
In addition the application process looks for
‘Leadership’. If the only evidence of leadership is as part of an academic module then it is not going to be considered sufficient.
A Numerical test is included but the good news is that most people pass this.
Telephone interview covering communication skills and the other competencies
The Internship Programe. - A 10 week summer internship programme with the same recruitment process as graduate entry. The good news though this can convert into a job offer (called ‘referral’) after a successful internship. Consequently around 80 % of interns get referred. Finalists who are going on to a masters programme can apply to the internship programmme after their degree but more typically internships go to penultimate year students.
Hints and tips
* Research Lloyds banking group
* Attend university events where Lloyds are taking part
* Catch the webinars on the graduate web site
* Keep abreast of finance and industry news eg independent commission on banking report – going beyond tabloid front page news.
This section introduced us to some current trainees on different programmes
# Corporate markets trainee – a computer science grad from university of Manchester from 2009. Range of work includes
- Restructuring debt deal
- Currently a forex dealer – from 100k to 100 million – first deal was for £40 billion yen. Now enjoys looking at profit at the end of the day.
- Not about being weeded out or long hours. They ‘chuck money around’ for professional qualifications. Good social network amongst the recruits
# Amy Walter – HR from University of Bath. Relevant degree is unusual. Had done a bank of England internship. Now executive resourcing A new chief executive means lots of changes at the top
- Business placement – product manager in payments team looking at profit level on debit card and some fraud. Great front office experience. With a general HR placement to come
- Social side like being a student but with money.Able to organise own work shadowing – 100 per cent yes because of buy-in from management
- CIPD is useful but a challenge to balance it with work.
- Scope for charity work eg encouraging HR staff to work in schools or local hero mentoring scheme – young athletes sponsored by Lloyds
# Alex fogg a business studies graduate from University of Cardiff
Currently insurance manager in risk. Negotiating with brokers
Why Lloyds? A colleague points out that all the trainees comments sounded like they could be equally applied to other graduate schemes. All the trainees acknowledged that they had applied to other schemes but found Lloyds recruitment process less ‘gruelling’ and gave a chance to meet other recent trainees which gave them a sense of the culture. At Lloyds it felt like looking for reasons to recruit you rather than weed you out.
1 pm Okay it’s lunchtime now so why is James Weaver asking a question? It’s my fault I should have briefed him more precisely about my lunch needs. Having said that the dread phrase ‘buffet lunch’ was heard earlier so I am braced for disappointment
The legendary lunches at Deloitte and Accenture are hard acts to follow but I can’t be doing with fancy little sandwiches with fruit to follow. In fact I stopped providing buffet sandwiches at my careers events because I disapprove of them in principle. There is a little cafe right in the atrium where our lunch is served and I toy with the idea of making a raid on it but hold off because I realise my food preferences might seem like borderline phobias. I plough through a third slice of melon.
After lunch a very thorough outline of Lloyds diversity programmes. Suffice to say the length of the session did underline how seriously the issue is being taken.
4pm – Cycling home. Weather good but wonder if I have eaten enough melon to get me home.
Social science in the oil and gas industry November 21, 2011Posted by Jeff Riley in : Graduate recruitment, Industry Information , 2comments
Piers Moffatt graduated with a BA from the War Studies department in 2007. He came back to meet some of our students to talk about his subsequent career in the oil and gas industry.
Piers, how did you get started in the sector? I hadn’t considered what I was going to do that much while I was studying but in 2007 it became pretty clear that the job market was going to get very tight. I basically got on the phone and chased down everyone in my network – I’d been to an international school so I had a fairly wide reach. Eventually I got into what I thought was a conversation with an oil and gas startup company who one of my friend’s family had a connection with. It turned out it was more of a job interview than a conversation. The job offer though was dependent on me preparing an executive briefing situation report on the Angolan Oil industry. Having said that I have to admit I had misheard them and they were expecting a piece on the Algerian oil industry but I guess they were convinced I had something to offer. At the same time I was also preparing my dissertation and choose to focus my paper on something relevant to the potential job. In the end I decided to look at the geopolitical and social implications of oil and gas exploration and production activities within the Kurdistan region of Iraq. At the end of the day, the fact that the company was a startup worked very much in my favour as the most important part of my role was to be flexible and hard working as well as demonstrating a good fit into the company’s organisational chemistry.
That was a very strategic approach to your dissertation. Well it was a good way to demonstrate an ability to conduct research and analysis relevant to the type of work I wanted to pursue. I think I’d recommend not just using a dissertation to write about what you just happen to be interested in but think of a way it can align you with the job market.
What else did you bring to help you land the job? I think it is worth stressing that getting a real grounding in some of the practical skills that we take for granted can go a long way. In my case I had to become pretty good with things like Access and Excel in my spare time. These are fairly standard things that lots of students know a little about but I was able to demonstrate that I was fairly fluent – for example knowing about VBA Macros in Excel. Very early on I was concerned to get across my capacity to work. Someone asked me what my distinctive quality was and I told them that I simply worked my a** off! Actually though, I do. I love my work. Another important thing to stress is always be curious. When you hear something go off and do some independent research so that you can contribute at a later stage.
You then moved to Wood Mackenzie your current employer? Yes, the first company was a startup during a very difficult time. The massive rise in oil and gas prices in 2007 followed by the subsequent collapse in the financial industry put a lot of strain on the industry. It become increasingly difficult to access financing and the markets became very uneasy around oil and gas companies because it’s a highly capital intensive industry with long lead times. At the same time, it is also extremely risky with huge capital outlays and no guarantee of financial pay-off, particularly around exploration. Typical drilling success rates are around 30% and it you assume that most offshore wells will cost upwards of $20 million dollars smaller companies can run out of money very quickly.
Was that a formal recruitment process? Absolutely, I knew the company and they knew me through my work in the industry but given the difficulties in the job market everyone needs to go through the same type of process to ensure that you have the fundamentals. I had to make sure I prepared myself for the recruitment and assessment centre. They conducted a numerical and psychological reasoning test early on followed by a case study interview and a final discussion with the head of the unit. While the maths wasn’t particularly difficult, GCSE level, it was necessary to brush up because the questions are designed to test your numerical reasoning. Two or three days of locking yourself away with a calculator is what is needed and you have to be prepared to put in the effort.
What do you do for Wood Mackenzie? I’m a consultant. The kinds of work I do varies. For example one oil company wanted to know how quickly they could move from discovery to extraction in Kazakhstan and how they could then monetise their resources. Now they thought about 5 to 6 years but we were able to provide a more realistic estimate 11-15 years and this was evaluated in terms of new transit routes that could likely be developed in that timeframe. I was also recently in Singapore advising an oil company about how they can benchmark themselves against other oil companies in terms of their exploration processes. Our role was to do an internal diagnostics of the company that hired us, find where their process were weak and then use our networks in the industry and previous experience to provide best practice solutions from some of the world’s most successful companies. Outside the skills and experience of our team, we also rely heavily on the company’s proprietary database. This is one of the most comprehensive data sources in the industry and captures everything from licensing awards to wells drilled as well as different industries that allow us to forecast energy pricing and demand. We are then able to leverage this knowledge and provide holistic interpretations about what is happening in the industry and how it could possibly develop.
We don’t find many of our students going into this sector. Well, if history is anything to go by you typically need to be an engineer, geologist or geoscientist to get into it. Once you have the grounding, you are then trained up in commercial aspects and can either follow a more technical or managerial position. However my belief is that the industry has so much to offer and I aim to make sure we don’t exclude people just because they come with a social science background. I have to say I think it’s a great sector to work in. So many people have opinions and make judgements on the industry, but once you get exposure you can truly appreciate it for what it is.
So Wood Mackenzie has a graduate programme? Yes, and an internship programme as well. The graduate programme goes on year round. While it doesn’t pay as well as, say investment banking, you can earn pretty good money. On top of this you can earn up to 30% of your salary as a bonus. As well as consultants we recruit researchers. No matter what role you have you will need good personal interaction skills. If you are a data genius but can’t get along with people it’s not going to work. This is something that has become increasingly important during the hiring process. Finding the right people is key.
http://www.woodmacresearch.com Wood Mackenzie is the most comprehensive source of knowledge about the world’s energy and metals industries. They analyse and advise on every stage along the value chain – from discovery to delivery, and beyond – to provide clients with the commercial insight that makes them stronger.
Defence analysts May 5, 2011Posted by Jeff Riley in : Industry Information, Intelligence and security, consulting, skills , 1 comment so far
Visiongain (www.visiongain.com) are business information providers with expertise in the Telecoms, Pharmaceutical, Defence, Energy and Metals industries. They regularly recruit King’s College London graduates particularly in defence analyst roles. I spoke to Sara Peerun Visiongain’s Commercial Director and Daniel Harrison the Head of Visiongain’s Defence Department
How easy is it for defence analysts to transfer to other sectors? We do have an aviation sector so the track across to that would be easier. Even though the research roles are all broadly similar we do encourage specialisation in one sector– even within broad sectors such as defence there are more layers of specialism. It makes a lot of difference to the level of expertise and productivity analysts can bring to their work. Having said that, a good researcher can move across to other sectors and be effective. Incidentally the work can also be a good platform for careers in consultancy.
Is there a career pattern? There is movement. For example our Pharmaceutical analysts often become medical writers. From defence they may move on to work for our competitors (people like Jane’s and Frost & Sullivan) or even work for our clients – people like Lockheed Martin. It’s a good channel into those industries. Typically doing market analysis and providing competitor information. Similar to what we do in fact.
What’s the difference between the reports your analysts write and that produced by a defence strategy consultancy. Our material is more ‘off-the-shelf’, geared to selling as many copies as we can. While consultants would provide more bespoke reports, typically for a single client. Focusing on a single piece of equipment such as helicopters, for example in Western Europe. Whereas we are much more concerned with providing a global overview of a particular technology sector.
On your job advert you specify ‘analytically minded’. How do you assess that? Well that’s a good question. I look for someone who is highly questioning and academic. Someone who won’t take things at face value and will look beyond the obvious. Be able to juggle a lot of different material, data and conflicting information and be able to come up with a plausible, realistic viewpoint. The amount of information available can be bewildering – especially for a new analyst.
You also specify ‘Highly literate with good writing skills’. What’s the distinction between this and academic writing? We provide formal business reports and need to use formal business English. We can’t use a journalistic style or colloquialisms. Graduates quickly pick it up. In addition they can be naturally very good in a qualitative sense – understanding the geo-political context for example. However, our reports have much more of a market focus and need a combination of both good writing and solid mathematical skills. We assess these through aptitude tests but someone with good GCSE or A level mathematics should have no problems.
What about research skills? Students who apply to us generally have good research skills. We use broadly similar sources – secondary sources in the main. We do, however, warn about the inherent bias of the internet – its overwhelmingly written in English and western oriented. Not so great for material on Japan, China and Russia for example and they have to factor that in. Also our reports contain at least two interviews with senior business people who are experts in the sector being researched. These are usually done over the phone as many of our interviewees will be overseas. Incidentally interviewing for primary research purposes is not something students seem to do during their studies. It does take some skill to persuade senior people to grant you an interview on the phone.
Related reports – Read an interview with a King’s College alumni working as a Visiongain defence analyst http://bit.ly/kQqEVI
Strategy consultancy in the defence sector April 29, 2011Posted by Jeff Riley in : Industry Information, Intelligence and security, skills , add a comment
David Hiley is a King’s College alumni. He recently joined Renaissance Strategic Advisors from IHS Jane’s strategy arm to help develop this USA strategy consultancy’s presence in the UK. I met him to talk about his new organisation and the kind of skill set needed for the sector.
Are your clients different than in your previous role? They are slightly different. Previously I was very much concerned with market studies for such things military equipment and military services. Anything from types of ammunition, tanks, light armoured vehicles. Things that attracts budgets from the Ministry of Defence, the US Department of Homeland Security and Department’s of Justice. in this work both at IHS and Renaissance I dealt with Directors, Head of business units, Heads of strategy, people in marketing. However, that area of work is only one pillar of what we do at Renaissance. Overall I’m very much more industry focused now and less government oriented which was a major chunk of my work previously.
The second pillar of Renaissance’s work is strategy support. This involves working with more senior levels in our clients. Typically CEOs, Boards of Directors – the kind of people the ‘market studies’ clients would report to. We advise on business direction – things such as acquisition, divestment, product development and support – all in the military arena. For example we recently advised a client in the defence electronics sector that had developed a range of products and needed advice on which of these they should focus on because they weren’t able to fund all of them. Which ones were most viable and how competitive is the market for these different products? Typical strategy consulting in fact. This is distinct from but founded on that marketplace knowledge I mentioned earlier. The Renaissance team has a number of consultants from a strong strategy consultancy background – firms like Booz and co, Charles River Associates and others whereas IHS Jane’s tended to recruit into consulting from its defence and market knowledge oriented staff – certainly at the junior levels.
The third leg of our work is Mergers and Acquisitions. Firms might be looking to divest part of their organisation or be considering several potential acquisitions to complete their portfolio and want advice on which would be the most marketable. Or clients might be equity firms looking to invest.
Why is Renaissance focusing on the UK currently? Well USA defence spending represents 50 per cent of the world’s total. We are pretty strong in the US and have strong relationships with all the major US defence firms but have much less work outside the USA. So we are now looking to expand the relatively untapped UK and European market. The other reason is to provide some European and ‘rest of the world’ perspective into work in the US. Having a base here will also help us work with clients looking to get into the US market.
The defence sector in the UK has traditionally been less amenable to working with consultancies – the take up of work has been far below what is typical in the USA but it’s a market that is going to continue to grow. We have a USP of defence industry expertise. There are competitors – PWC, McKinsey, Detica, KPMG. IHS to some extent on some of the market study work. Though we don’t have any direct peer competitors.
Given the differences you have outlined between IHS and RSA will it make a difference to the type of people you recruit from King’s? Yes and no. I continue to look for what I call ‘tank geeks’. People with an abiding interest in military equipment – the kind that build Airfix models or have Spitfire posters on their walls. That kind of expertise underpins everything Renaissance does in the UK at this stage. (The USA team have a more horizontal skill set – we all have the defence interest but they are also expected to be ‘spreadsheet warriors’, as well. Many have MBAs, for example.) So in the UK I still seek a similar profile in many ways but people with that profile aren’t always that easy to find. Typically students from King’s can be found on a continuum between a general interest in international relations at one end and a specialised interest in defence equipment at the other. Asking students whether they are more interested in the conduct of a war or the policy context of the war gives you a good idea of where they are on that continuum.
Our current concern is with the corporate world which means we need people who are more to the specialised end. At IHS it wasn’t so problematic because they also have involvement with government work, meaning analysts didn’t need to be so engaged with the nuts and bolts of defence technology. At Renaissance the international relations context element is important, but very much secondary to that. Not so much knowledge of technology, because that can be gained, but definitely an interest is essential. This is the foundation for all our work. As our presence develops in the UK we will need this to be increasingly balanced with business acumen. Bringing business in, for example, needs good people and networking skills. Understanding what a company might want or helping them choose between different options also needs additional skills. People won’t need to come in with them but they need to be developed over time to progress beyond the first one or two grades. The difference between a researcher and an analyst is the capacity to deal with the question ‘so what’. Research skills are a given for people at Masters level but, as an analyst, once you have your data set you have to be able to divorce yourself from the academic process and notions of ‘balance’ and ‘objectivity’ . Students who want to step into the consultancy industry need to be able to make that shift. To empathise with businesses, their market position, identify with their concerns and articulate what that data set means for that specific customer. This is likely to be different from any other clients – even if they are in a very similar line of work